Today in Transportation History – March 27, 1940: New Zealand Marks the Passing of a Yacht-Building Legend

Boat builder and designer Archibald Logan died in the New Zealand city of Auckland. According to the next day’s edition of the New Zealand Herald, “Such was his genius in the construction of yachts that he had an international reputation, and craft of his own design have proved eminently successful, not only in [New Zealand], but also in Australia, South Africa, Canada, the United States and England.”

Archibald Logan, who was born in Scotland in 1865, immigrated to New Zealand with his family in 1874. His father launched a boat-building business in the vicinity of Auckland. After completing school, Archibald (who became better known as Arch) joined four of his five brothers in helping their father in the design and construction of boats. Sometime around 1890, Arch and his brother Robert set up R. & A. Logan as their own boat-building business at Waitemata Harbour in Auckland. The firm was renamed Logan Brothers in 1892 after another brother, John, came on board as an employee.

Logan Brothers was a hugely successful enterprise. According to the New Zealand Herald, “The craft turned out were noted for the high standard of their workmanship, their graceful lines, and their remarkable speed, and soon the firm’s reputation became well known overseas.” By 1900, Arch was well-established as the principal designer at the firm. He also became known as the preeminent yacht designer in the Southern Hemisphere. A key example of his work was the spoon-bowed boat Ariki, which was built in 1904. Over the next 34 years, the 54-foot-long Ariki dominated Auckland yacht racing.

In 1910, Logan Brothers ended its operations to make way for government-sponsored efforts to redevelop the property along Waitemata Harbour. Arch, however, continued designing and building high-quality boats in the Auckland-area community of Stanley Bay. By 1930, he was focused mainly on the design side. His last design was for the 18-foot-long yacht Matara, which made her debut in 1939 and became a formidable competitor in Auckland yacht racing throughout most of the 1940s.

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